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Tualatin Valley: An Oregon Gem

Take a group of travelers to Oregon’s Tualatin Valley, and you can count on spending a lot of time outdoors. About 10 miles west of downtown Portland, the valley and Washington County encompass the notable scenery and fertile farmland that is characteristic of the state.

“We have a wealth of outdoor activities: cycling, kayaking, hiking and nature walks,” said Sylke Neal-Finnegan, director of marketing and communications for the Washington County Visitors Association. “We have quite a few wetlands and nature parks in the area for people who want to get out into nature but not do anything extreme or strenuous.”

For those who do enjoy extreme and strenuous activities, the Tualatin Valley offers several options. Tree to Tree Aerial Adventure Park in Gaston features a series of challenging obstacles and zip lines built into the forest canopy, giving guests a thrilling but safe way to explore the environment, face their fears and learn to work together to accomplish difficult tasks. In nearby North Plains, Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour offers a two-and-a-half-hour trek across seven zip lines through the Douglas firs and Western red cedars that dot the Brunswick Canyon landscape.

For more leisurely experiences, groups can visit one of the many farms and wineries in the Tualatin Valley to experience the area’s bounty.

“We have more than 30 wineries that produce everything from pinot noir to chardonnay,” Neal-Finnegan said. “There’s one winery called Oak Knoll that has been here since 1971. Their wine is actually served as the communion wine in one of the local churches here.”

Farms around the area offer a variety of visitor experiences depending on the time of year. In the summer, groups can pick berries; in the fall they can pick apples and pears. Autumn celebrations at local orchards also include pumpkin patches and corn mazes, among other down-home activities.

Of course, there’s much more to enjoy in these Oregon destinations than just the outdoors. Groups that travel to Washington County and the Tualatin Valley will also find a variety of interesting museums, historical sites and a surprising wealth of ethnic dining opportunities.


Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals

In Hillsboro, travelers can visit one of the Northwest’s premier collections of notable stones at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. The museum displays fine rocks and minerals, as well as fossils, meteorites, lapidary art and gemstones from the Pacific Northwest; there are also some notable specimens from other parts of the world.

The museum is housed in a building originally constructed as a family home in the 1950s. Today, the building, which incorporates many local materials and typical Oregon architectural style, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Groups that visit the museum can take part in a number of educational programs.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.